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French strike action closes Calais port

There was more disruption to cross-Channel ferries on Monday when French sailors held a wildcat strike that led to the closure of the port of Calais.

French strike action closes Calais port
Striking MyFerryLink workers have closed the port of Calais again. Photo AFP

MyFerryLink workers took strike action for the second time in a week on Monday that resulted in the closure of the port of Calais and ferry services to and from the UK being cancelled.

All ferry services between Calais and Dover in the UK are affected. 

A spokeswoman for the port of Calais said motorists are advised to avoid the port and to change their journey plans. “Ferry traffic has been completely suspended,” she told The Local.

Negotiations are currently ongoing to try to resolve the dispute but with MyFerryLink set to cease operations on Thursday, port authorities are concerned strike action could continue.

A source at the port told The Local: “We are a collateral victim in all this as are the other companies who operate here.”

Confused and frustrated passengers took to social media to complain about not being able to board their ferries.

The dispute centres around Eurotunnel's decision to sell two of the MyFerryLink boats, which were formerly SeaFrance, to Danish company DFDS. 
 
Once MyFerryLink ceases operations on Thursday DFDS will take over, but the Danish company has said it will only keep 202 out of 577 workers, reported the Reuters news agency.

MyFerryLink had wanted extra time to find a solution but on Monday a court in Boulogne dismissed their appeal, which prompted the latest strike action.

Their strike last Tuesday, when 200 MyFerryLink workers forced their way onto the railway tracks in Calais, saw the suspension of the Eurotunnel car and lorry-carrying train services and Eurostar passenger trains.
 
Migrants camping out in Calais proved a headache for police at the time after they seized a chance to climb aboard the trucks that were left waiting in an attempt to get to the UK. 

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STRIKES

French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.

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